Pairing: Ancient!John/Rodney, Jennifer Keller
Warnings: right before part 3 of "Ascensiones" in the AJ 'Verse
Summary: Alcohol is a kind of balm for stupidity.
Notes: Yet another "might have been part 3" drabble.
An Ancient!John Drabble
"I drink to make other people more interesting."
― Ernest Hemingway
18 March, 2007 / IXX Mai. a.f.c. I – Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
"You look like you could use this," Jennifer tells him with a smile that's so sincere Rodney doesn't know whether to flinch from it or respond in kind. When she's close enough, she passes him one of the champagne flutes she's holding.
Rodney can no longer remember how much he's had to drink tonight, but he takes the glass anyway. It's been the longest day he can remember suffering through for a while and he's been nothing but surrounded by overenthusiastic well-wishers, would-be hangers-on, and political opportunists. Alcohol is making the task of not cutting each and every one of the imbeciles down to size less draining, and numbing the pain of having to listen to them talk and talk and talk. "You don't have to give me alcohol poisoning if you want an excuse to leave the party, you know."
She smiles more brightly than Rodney really feels is necessary for such a poor joke. Jennifer Keller is a beautiful woman, exactly his type in every way possible, and an exceptional doctor, but sometimes he finds it hard to be around her. It's not an issue of attraction (Rodney's engaged, not blind, but he's never felt compelled to act upon it), it's that she tries too hard. She tries to be less attractive than she is, less intelligent, less of anything that might cause her to be singled out in a crowd, as if she's afraid of being noticed, let alone noteworthy.
John does the same thing, but whereas he plays a game of smoke and mirrors, letting people see only what they want to see, Jennifer tries to fit herself into the box she's created in the image of so many less remarkable people. The real John is still there for people find if they look hard enough. But the real Jennifer is slowly disappearing, lost as she cuts everything which doesn't fit away, and it makes trying to carry on a conversation with the Expedition's chief of medicine an uncomfortable task even at the best of times.
At least, Rodney finds it uncomfortable, even if no one else does. It's like watching someone slowly kill themself, one bloody inch at a time. It reminds him a little bit of his mother, at least as she'd been like before Jeannie had been born. (What she was like after doesn't bear repeating and he takes a long drought at the memory.)
"Oh, no. I'm having a wonderful time," she says brightly, either not noticing or choosing to ignore his obvious discomfort. "It didn't look like you were, though, so I thought I'd try to help."
"Unless you've got a way of speeding up time so that it's tomorrow already, I don't think there's much you can do. Though, you know," he adds somewhat awkwardly, gesturing with what remains of his drink, "thanks."
She continues to smile innocuously. He's not drunk enough for it not to annoy him, so he empties the glass in the hopes it will be enough. "Ah, but it's fun, Doctor McKay. Everything's so fancy and there're all sorts of neat food from all over the galaxy. It's like something you'd see on TV, only better."
"It's a whole lot of bother, that's what it is."
"I don't know about that. You know what they say: work hard, play hard."
"This isn't play," he says disgustedly. "This is torture."
"I'm sure Sheppard won't mind if you want to leave early."
Rodney snorts. "Are you kidding me? John snuck out hours ago."